In my most recent column, I discussed the successful passage of Indiana Senate Republicans’ agenda items for the General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session.
While that list includes some critical initiatives for our state, it is far from exhaustive – many additional bills won broad support in both chambers and have now been signed into law. Listed below is a brief description of some of the important new laws to come out of this year’s session.
Stopping Meth Makers
Like most states, Indiana is facing a drug epidemic. One particularly troubling substance that is ravaging Hoosier communities is methamphetamine.
Indiana ranks number one in meth lab seizures in the United States. This drug, illegally manufactured with common household goods, is tearing families apart and wreaking havoc across the state.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle came together this session to address the meth crisis. The result of these efforts was Senate Enrolled Act 80.
Originally piloted by community leaders and pharmacies in Fulton County, SEA 80 requires pharmacists to make a professional determination whether or not medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine – the key ingredients to making meth – are medically necessary for a customer.
SEA 80 does not require law-abiding customers to have a prescription for these substances. For customers that have had a relationship with their pharmacy, they can purchase cold medicines like Sudafed as they have in the past. For customers that do not have a relationship with a pharmacy, there are various other methods to legitimize their purchase.
With this legislation, pharmacists will be in a better position to block those seeking these medicines for use in making meth, helping to stop the rampant homemade production of this drug in our communities.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
The General Assembly also addressed teacher recruitment and retention in Indiana schools.
House Enrolled Act 1002 establishes a $7,500-per-year college scholarship for top Hoosier high school graduates who commit to teaching in Indiana for at least five years.
House Enrolled Act 1005 empowers school districts to create “Career Pathways” programs that provide greater pay and career advancement opportunities to teachers who take on leadership and mentoring roles. HEA 1005 also allows someone who holds an out-of-state teaching license to obtain an Indiana teaching license if he or she passed a licensure test in the former state.
Many Hoosier employers choose to locate their businesses in Indiana because of our dynamic economy and skilled labor force.
To help ensure Indiana’s workforce is aligned with employer demand, Senate Enrolled Act 301 coordinates the job training initiatives of various state agencies and educational institutions. Specifically, the bill calls for these programs to align their efforts to Indiana’s projected workforce needs over the next 10 years.
Protecting Vulnerable Children
Finally, the General Assembly took significant steps to protect Hoosier kids.
Senate Enrolled Act 357 creates a public registry of convicted child abusers. Before choosing a childcare provider or even a babysitter for a one-time occasion, parents will be able to use this registry to better ensure their children’s safety.
House Enrolled Act 1005 strengthens criminal background checks for teachers by requiring checks of the Department of Child Services’ records. It also requires schools to disclose any information about a former teacher found in the records if another school seeks a reference to hire that teacher.
Most legislation, including the bills above, originate from local communities and actively involved citizens. If you have any thoughts or ideas to better our state, I encourage you to contact me. My office can be reached at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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